|The VoloDrone is designed to carry all sorts of equipment and cargo underneath its body / Photo Credit: Dmitry Eagle Orlov (via Shutterstock)|
German company Volocopter is currently working on its air taxis, but it’s also exploring the utility drone market, according to Richard Lai of End Gadget, a tech news and reviews website. Similar to its 2X and VoloCity, the company’s VoloDrone is an 18-rotor electric aircraft that can be operated via remote control. In autonomous mode, the drone can be programmed to a pre-planned route. The VoloDrone is designed to carry different types of cargo and equipment underneath its body.
Like the VoloCity, the VoloDrone has a carrying capacity of 440 lbs “at up to a slightly further distance of 25 miles.” It also has a top speed of 68 mph. The VoloDrone is 9.2 m wide and 2.3 m tall, taking the same space as Volocopter’s air taxis. The VoloDrone is charged by swapping batteries, which takes at least five minutes to complete.
It’s not surprising for Volocopter to venture into the utility drone market. Although it is backed by Daimler and Geely, dipping its toes into the drone industry is its way of tapping into the air taxi market. Volocopter’s competitors like Uber, Lillium, and Kitty Hawk have been taking their tech innovations to the skies. However, unlike Uber, most of the competitors are focused on passenger aircrafts. On the other hand, Boeing has been developing a cargo drone that can carry a load of up to 500 lbs.
Volocopter conducted its first air taxi public demo flight at Marina Bay, Singapore, which lasted for two minutes. The flight was operated by an onboard pilot. Volocpter has come a long way from its startup days. Now, the firm’s air traffic control system takes air transportation into account, which is the key foundation of the air taxi market.
How about its VoloDone? We can’t expect to see it in the skies anytime soon. Volocopter said it will happen “in the near future.” As of this writing, VoloCity two-seater “may enter service” in two to four years’ time. Singapore will be most likely be its first hub in Southeast Asia.